Memes that shaped Ottawa written out
Everywhere you go, memes are there for you. Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Interviews, moist speaking, and Uno draws, oh my!

As we wrap up the year, we are also seeing the end of a technology-immersed decade. With the invention of Instagram in 2010 through to the emergence of TikTok in 2016, as well as other apps that have risen and fallen, came memes. 

Memes of the early 2010’s were unfunny, uninteresting (and often sexist) comments overlaid on random photos. You can imagine them being made by 13-year-old boys while messing around on 9GAG using school computers. 

Since then, meme theatrics has grown into a cultural phenomenon that addresses everything from the mundane to the existential, and often allows people to share their innermost thoughts and feelings without fear of mockery (because, in fact, they are already mocking themselves).

Not to mention that in times of hardship, turning to laughter can be extremely beneficial, helping to de-stress, ease pain and boost your immune system

It’s no wonder that in the mess of 2020, from COVID-19 to the U.S. presidential election, people have created memes to deal with political anxiety, feelings of isolation, and overall sadness. 

Here are some of the best Ottawa-focused memes from the year. 

Elizabeth or Bernie?

Elizabeth or Bernie meme
Image: @uottawa.memes/Instagram.

2020 started off with the inherently politicized comparison of then-U.S. Democratic nominee candidates Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, responding to issues blatantly irrelevant to actual politics and summarizing Elizabeth and Bernie’s stances on the topic. 

The meme began going around in December 2019, but continued well into the following January and offered us a wholesome start to a terrible year. 

This meme hits close to home. It presents a debate topic relatable to any U of O student that’s ever been 18 (except, of course, the ones that are currently 18 and missing out on this holy right of passage): going out in Gatineau. 

Draw 25

Uno meme
Image: @uottawa.memes/Instagram.

The Uno “draw 25” meme invited people to share what they would never do, even if it meant picking up 25 cards in a heated game of Uno. 

This meme offers both the potential for amusement and the ability to express one’s innermost thoughts and feelings as people are encouraged to address their limits: what would you pick up 25 Uno cards to avoid doing?

The one above is an interpretation of this meme by @uottawa.memes, a nod to Ottawa’s light rail system which carried us effortfully through 2020. 

Everything connected to Trudeau’s ‘speaking moistly’ blunder

Video: anonymotif/YouTube.

“Justin Trudeau sings ‘Speaking Moistly’” is a video meme that stood out amongst the others. His choice of words, followed by his apparent immediate regret, occured during his daily COVID-19 press conferences in early April and caused a stir. 

Amongst the turmoil on Twitter, the line was also remixed into a song and uploaded to YouTube by user anonymotif.

This video offered solace to Canadians under recently implemented COVID-19 lockdown measures. And as memes act as a way to deflect something into humour, this was certainly the case for Trudeau’s hit single. 

Sad Boy and Sad Girl

Sad girl meme
Image: @ghosted1996/Instagram.

This deeply personal meme format went around in January and addresses the difficulties of dating in contemporary society. Using two characters that are symbolic of the “sad boy” and “sad girl” archetypes presents them bonding over apparent character flaws and unresolved traumas. 

This meme was created by @ghosted1996 on Instagram, who uses memes to cope with her own traumas and difficulties about which she speaks very openly on her account.

People are attracted to these sorts of accounts as they offer users a certain rawness not present in many places online. The struggles of human experiences are easier to swallow when they are presented as comics and jokes than when spoken of seriously.

Rise of the Deep-Fried

screenshot meme
Image: KnowYourMeme.com.

2020 saw a regression in image quality. The term “deep-fried memes” was coined in order to describe this concept, where people imitate images that have been screenshotted and reposted many times. 

The above image, hailing from Know Your Meme, is an example of this, using a psychedelic colour palette to denote a feeling of disconnect from society and overall depersonalization.

Swan-dive of an Interview

"stunned" meme
Image: MemeZila.com.

The image above is sourced from an interview with Axios political reporter, Jonathan Swan and Donald Trump on the topic of COVID-19. The exchange was popularized due to Trump’s apparent avoidance of Swan’s questions and has created a popular meme format, equally used within and outside of political contexts as is the case in the image above from Memezila.com.

The utter confusion on Swan’s face and deadpan response from Trump can be used in a multitude of scenarios.